Squad Breakdown: Penrith Panthers top 17 analysed

Last year's NRL SuperCoach runner-up Tim Williams picks his top 17 at the Panthers, including analysis and buy rating of every player.

Pre-season Squad Breakdown

Last year’s grand finalists Penrith enter the season as strong title contenders and they’re again blessed with SuperCoach talent.

You can make a case for most of their starting side, while there’s a host of genuine guns across varying positions.

Leading into the season we’ll take a look at every club’s predicted 17 to start the year, providing SuperCoach analysis on every single player as well as a rating for their round 1 buy credentials.

Here’s how we think Penrith will line up for the opener and whether or not it’s worth investing in their squad to kick-off the season.

If there’s a player who may miss the opening round or two, we’ve added them to the 17 with analysis for SuperCoach purposes.

Obviously there’s plenty to play out during the pre-season that’ll alter starting sides and buy ratings, so we’ll update this as frequently as possible as it all unfolds.

The Panthers play the first bye round and will sit out Round 17.

Click on the player to reveal their analysis and Round 1 buy rating.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations.

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BENCH

Tyrone May $326,400 // 5/8-CTW // 2020 Ave: // Rd 1 buy rating: *2/10

May started at centre in the grand final meaning he could obviously start the year in the position.

While I think it’ll be Naden, it won’t surprise me one bit if it’s May.

If he does start he becomes an interesting proposition, although it’s at an awkward price.

However, even then the numbers aren’t enticing.

He played four 80 minutes games at centre last season for scores of 41, 23, 36 and 40, ewww.

Further to that, I think the left edge of Luai, Crichton and To’o will see far more ball than the right edge, despite Cleary’s presence.

*Rating to be reconsidered if starting.

Kurt Capewell $423,900 // 2RF-CTW // 2020 Ave: 53.2 // Rd 1 buy rating: 2/10

Capewell played just five games last season due to injury.

He’s a chance of starting in the back-row following his Origin form, but it seems hard to displace Martin or Kikau based on last year’s success.

It’s a conundrum for Ivan Cleary, but also reflects the strength of the roster.

Capewell started three games in the back-row last season for 80 minutes, scoring 91, 62 and 89 with three tries in the process.

If we get word he starts and will play 80 then he becomes a massive option at the price, but I can’t really see how it’ll happen barring back-row injuries in the pre-season.

*Rating to be reconsidered if starting.

Matt Eisenhuth $524,600 // 2RF-FRF // 2020 Ave: 59.2 // Rd 1 buy rating: 2/10

Eisenhuth is a very solid scorer when given minutes, but they’ve been inconsistent in recent years at the Tigers.

Last season he averaged 58MPG for 59PPG at an output of 1.01PPM.

He scored at a very high 53BPG, and much like JFH his output isn’t in anyway reliant on attacking stats, so you know what you’ll get if you can work out his minutes.

Even if starting though I can’t see him upping his 58 minutes from last season though, and he’s well over $500k so it’s a pass.

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Spencer Leniu $218,500 // FRF // 2020 Ave: 24.7 // Rd 1 buy rating: 4/10

20-year-old Leniu is loaded with potential and is a decent cheapie prospect having played 12 games from the bench last season.

Like the rest of the bench, I can’t see how his minutes will increase significantly enough to warrant buying even at the price.

However, if there is a shortage of cheapies he may be an option as a slow-burning cash cow.

He’s a MASSIVE pre-season watch. If he dominates in the trials, which he’s capable of, it could force Cleary into giving him more game time.

At this stage he’s a no, but this could easily change before Round 1.

OTHERS

Brent Naden $459,500 // CTW // 2020 Ave: 51.9 // Rd 1 buy rating: 4/10

Naden has been made unavailable for the opening month of the season by Ivan Cleary.

I had him fighting for the starting centre spot alongside recruit Paul Momirovski and Tyrone May who started at centre in the grand final.

Naden is now out, and rookie playmaker Matt Burton has entered the frame for the spot after being named at centre for the trial game.

Round 1 teams will be one to monitor.

Naden played 16 games last season and scored 12 tries, and I’m not convinced he’ll keep this up if he regains his starting spot, although in this Penrith side outside Nathan Cleary it’s obviously possible.

With job security issues on return, and 26BPG, I have To’o and Crichton well ahead of him in the SuperCoach pecking order.

May, Burton and Momirovski all become options though depending on who wins the starting spot.

SUPERCOACH TERMINOLOGY KEY

MPG = Minutes per game

PPG = Points per game

PPM = Points per minute

BPG = Base per game (point accrued in tackles + runs + missed tackles)

POD = Point of difference

BREAKEVEN (B/E) = The score a player must record to earn a price rise.

*Please note all our stats are taken from the geniuses at nrlsupercoachstats.com

Dylan Edwards

$608,800 // FLB // 2020 Ave: 68.7 // Rd 1 buy rating: 5/10

Edwards really flew under the radar last season due to being in a stacked position alongside the likes of James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic.

He’s an exceptional SuperCoach player, as his average suggests, but I think it’ll be the same case as last year where he won’t come into serious consideration again.

In his 11 games in 2020, nine scores were between 53 and 75 which displays extreme consistency, while he had two other scores of 44 and 126.

While his game continues to develop, these scores were in a Penrith outfit that lost just one regular season game.

He’s priced at over $600k, so when the likes of Teddy and Turbo are banging out tons for fun, and enormous ones at that, I don’t see how you can consider Edwards.

If he develops his ball-playing and adds greater try-assists to his 33BPG, he’ll enter discussions, but not for now.

Brian To'o

$522,000 // CTW // 2020 Ave: 58.9 // Rd 1 buy rating: 8/10

Pending the cheapies on offer, I’m tempted to spend up bigger at CTW than I have in previous seasons.

The general tactic is to go cheap in the position, but I’ve found that getting solid mid-rangers and a gun or two could be a very effective option.

To’o could be one of those guns at an affordable rate.

He’ll shift onto Josh Mansour’s vacant left edge where Mansour scored seven tries in his final six regular season games.

There was a period where Stephen Crichton killed Mansour’s attacking output, but once oppositions zeroed in on his threat they’d jam him far earlier, leading to an easy tip on or a cut-out from Jarome Luai.

It’ll be the same this year and To’o will be the beneficiary.

He averaged a monster 32BPG for a winger which is exactly what we’re after in our CTWs.

He finished the season with a 5RA of 72.8, and I think his season average could edge towards this.

He also averaged 5.3 tackle busts per game, add that to his base and try-scoring ability in a gun side and you’re onto a winner.

Stephen Crichton

$484,900 // CTW // 2020 Ave: 54.7 // Rd 1 buy rating: 7/10

Crichton was a revelation last season, and with two early games off the bench he averaged 74MPG.

He’ll evolve from his first full season in the top grade and should only improve in NRL and SuperCoach.

He’s another serious option at CTW and another who I think may well comfortably exceed his value.

His 24BPG is only okay, but he does make up for it in attacking output.

My concern is that he did score 15 tries across 19 games, so can he maintain a similar output?

I’ll put my faith in his ability, and those inside him, to suggest that he can.

He’ll be firmly on my radar for Round 1, however I’d lean towards To’o in a similar price bracket.

Paul Momirovski

$380,000 // CTW // 2020 Ave: 47.7 // Rd 1 buy rating: 5/10

With Naden now missing the first month of the season, the centre spot becomes even more up for grabs.

Recruit Paul Momirovski will fight for the spot alongside Tyrone May who played centre in the grand final, and shock candidate Matt Burton who was named at centre for the club’s trial.

Momirovski looks the likely option and he’s at a tempting price.

He played six games last season, averaging 70MPG.

In five 80 minute games he averaged 51.8PPG last season, and had 23.2BPG.

While the base reads poorly, he played two games on the wing and based 13 in each game, in his three games at centre he based 30.

In 2019 he averaged 73MPG, for 55PPG with 26BPG.

I think if starting at centre he can up that base to around the 30 mark.

Note that in his 11 games in 2019 he did have 70 points (missed conversions subtracted) from conversions that inflated that average a touch.

If he can average a notch over 50PPG in 2021 he’d make around $70k, which is probably a touch under what you’d aim for in a mid-ranger, but you could say that’s also being conservative.

If he wins the centre spot in a red-hot Panthers side I think he’s a solid buy for Round 1 at an awkward price.

Charlie Staines

$297,700 // FLB-CTW // 2020 Ave: 112 // Rd 1 buy rating: 7/10

Yep, that’s a 112 average for Staines across his two games last season.

It’s a huge shame for SuperCoach purposes he averaged that because it puts him outside of genuine cheapie range.

He had six tries in his two outings, producing scores of 158 and 66.

He’s hard to assess due to the small sample size, however on the snippet we’ve seen and the fact the Panthers released Mansour to promote him can only mean good things.

To’o scored six tries in 13 games outside Naden last season, which is okay, but not overly enticing.

However, with Staines’ upside in this side he’s a serious buy, but it’ll likely all depend on the cheapie scene come round 1.

If there’s a decent chunk of sub $250k CTW cheapies you could make a case to avoid, but he looks a good prospect at this stage.

Jarome Luai

$551,400 // 5/8 // 2020 Ave: 62.3 // Rd 1 buy rating: 6/10

I’m forever indebted to Luai for his monster run home to end last season.

Unfortunately he’s lost his dual HFB-5/8 status, but it’s not the end of the world.

He went from strength-to-strength last season as his confidence grew, as did his combination with those around him, namely Nathan Cleary.

Despite his high-profile halves partner, it was Luai getting the majority of ball in attacking territory at stages to end 2020, thus was his form.

He’ll likely be a huge POD option at low ownership to begin the year, and he’s a player who may exceed his price and average this season, but I’m happy to sit back and watch early on.

I’m happy to disregarded his first half of the season as he found his feet as a starting five-eighth.

In his last 10 games, he averaged 72.8PPG, including scores of 110, 82, 100, 59, 83 and 110 to finish the season.

His 23BPG is acceptable for a 5/8.

I’m not against anyone who wants to jump on, so don’t let me deter you. As I said, I don’t think he’ll lose much value if at all.

Arguably I think he’s probably slightly undervalued to start the season and we know he has a big ceiling on his day.

Nathan Cleary

$734,300 // HFB // 2020 Ave: 82.9 // Rd 1 buy rating: 9/10

I think Cleary is quite comfortably the best halfback in SuperCoach and hence I’ll be starting with him.

I think he can go close to matching his enormous average of 82.9PPG last season.

If there were other value options at halfback I’d like to start without him and wait for a price drop which I think will happen at some stage, but I’m not convinced there are.

Obviously this can change come Round 1, but for the time being he looks well worth the investment.

In 18 games last season he had six games over 99 and scored under 50 just once (39), remarkable consistency and upside for a halfback.

I don’t think I need to say much more…

Moses Leota

$350,400 // FRF // 2020 Ave: 39.6 // Rd 1 buy rating: 3/10

I’m not certain who will fill the starting role left by James Tamou, but it’ll likely come down to Leota or Matt Eisenhuth.

Either way, I think it’ll take the interest of many SuperCoaches, but as occurred with Zane Tetevano last season I think there’s very little on offer anyway.

James Fisher-Harris will play 60+ minutes at prop, while Isaah Yeo will play 80 at lock, so there’s no real extra minutes in the middle to justify the player.

Leota is awkwardly priced at $350k, having scored at 1.19PPM in 33MPG, which is decent output.

He’d need to increase to absolute minimum 45 minutes to take my interest.

Api Koroisau

$587,300 // HOK // 2020 Ave: 66.3 // Rd 1 buy rating: 7/10

I think Koroisau is a viable Round 1 option at a decent price, but there’s factors that will contribute to his credentials in the lead up to Round 1.

The first and foremost is Cam Smith whose career decision will impact the hooking scenario immensely.

The second is whether or not he’s set for 80 minutes to begin the year. My strong assumption is that he will, but I’m sure we’ll find out before the season begins.

Let’s base this argument on the assumption that he is playing 80 or thereabouts.

He averaged 75 minutes in 2020, with the main minutes he lost coming as he was rested in the final rounds of the regular season.

In three of his final four rounds of the season he played 62, 61 and 59 minutes and didn’t score overly well, so I’m going to disregard these stats as I think starting the season fresh as an 80 minute player is a different story.

In his 14 games of 70 minutes or over last year he didn’t score below 50 once, or over 100 once, which reflects his consistency.

Despite not tonning up, I’m confident he has the upside to do so this season, so I wouldn’t be concerned about a lack of ceiling.

He has an extremely strong 52BPG, and we all know he’s capable of attacking statistics.

He looks a serious option for Round 1, but the picture will be clearer when we find out what’s happening with Smith as it’ll also impact another key hooking contender in Harry Grant.

James Fisher-Harris

$522,200 // 2RF-FRF // 2020 Ave: 59 // Rd 1 buy rating: 4/10

Unless we get confirmation from Ivan Cleary that Fish will regularly play 65-70+ minutes, which is unlikely, I can’t go near him despite the enticing price tag.

Cleary showed his willingness to fluctuate JFH’s minutes last year which was a nightmare for SuperCoaches trying to catch him.

Last season he averaged 58MPG and had 56BPG, this tells the story of his SuperCoach credentials.

He scores at 1.01PM and accrues very little attacking stats, so I think 65 minutes will consistently equate to around 65 points.

This is unlike guys like Viliame Kikau whose PPM can be misleading due to a reliance on attacking stats.

At this stage, it’s a no from me unless we find ourselves with a genuine shortage of FRF options come Round 1.

Viliame Kikau

$541,400 // 2RF // 2020 Ave: 61.1 // Rd 1 buy rating: 5/10 

I love Big Billy Kikau as a SuperCoach prospect, and I don’t mind him when he plays say 65 minutes rather than 80 as I think his PPM increases, however I’m a little tentative to start with him.

I do think he is a huge POD to start the year due to his attacking upside, but he does have a reliance on attacking stats compared to many in the 2RF position.

In 67MPG last season he had just 33BPG which is appalling for a big minute back-rower.

If he could up his workload to 40BPG+ I’d be very tempted, but we have a good sample size of him now to suggest it probably won’t happen.

He scored seven tries in 17 games last season which is a great strike-rate for a back-rower, even of Kikau’s ability.

So if this dries up there’s every chance he will go on a stretch of sub 50 scores.

Hopefully this happens early in the year, he drops under $500k and then I’ll look a little closer at him.

He had six games under 50 points last season which is not what you want from a back-rower with so many premium options available.

Liam Martin

$485,300 // 2RF // 2020 Ave: 55 // Rd 1 buy rating: 4/10

I feel as though Martin has the elements to become a SuperCoach weapon, but he was given the opportunity last season and was only okay.

He averaged 75MPG for 55PPG with 42BPG which isn’t in the elite 2RF options.

His base needs to improve to further his SuperCoach credentials.

He also crossed for five tries which may be about on par with what he will do this year.

With big minutes like this I can’t see how he improves too substantially and thus can’t see why you’d invest.

Throw in the competition for a starting role with QLD Origin hero Kurt Capewell and you have another huge issue.

Isaah Yeo

$612,600 // 2RF // 2020 Ave: 69.2 // Rd 1 buy rating: 6/10

With no CTW availability this year Yeo’s SuperCoach credentials change dramatically.

He was absolutely superb last season, but that was as a CTW, he was just the 7th highest averaging 2RF in the game.

In the first 15 rounds last season he scored under 60 just once (53) and had a high score of 104.

I refer to the first 15 rounds because in the latter stages of the regular season he was given a few early showers in preparation for the finals.

His 58BPG is exceptional and he’s the model of consistency in SuperCoach, you know exactly what you’re going to get.

He jagged two tries, a try-assist and seven linebreaks last season to show he’s capable of attacking stats.

Early in the season I prefer to pay top dollar for guys who can score big centuries, so I’m likely to avoid Yeo and potentially eye him off later, but again I won’t begrudge anyone jumping on from Round 1.

2 Responses to “Squad Breakdown: Penrith Panthers top 17 analysed”

  1. Robert Johnstone

    Hi Tim, regarding the prop forward rotation. JFH minutes in 2020 were down 8 minutes from 2019 due to the ball-in-play for a longer percentage of total game time.
    I see JFH loosing more minutes this season also because the new rules will likely speed the game up even more.
    Jimmy Tamou leaves a 43 minute hole that has to be filled.
    Therefore, due to the lack of depth in the props. I see the rotation thus:-
    JFH: 50 minutes
    M. Leota: 50 minutes
    S. Leniu: 40 minutes
    Other: 20 minutes
    Leota and Leniu are set to make $100g each imo. But feel free to keep a lid on this.😊

    • Hey Rob,

      Great analysis mate.

      Too late on keeping it on the down low though, it’s public now!

      Yep I suppose it’ll come down to JFH. If he loses his 8 minutes than it’s logical that’s it’s split between Leniu and Leota, I’m not convinced he will, but it’s possible, especially early on in the year.

      I don’t think Leota will get to 50 minutes, I think 45 would be more likely, which makes him tempting with 1.19PPM.

      I’m not sure how much upside there is, but if he does get to 50 minutes he’ll be a huge play.

      I’d be more tempted in Leniu if he can get 30+ minutes at the price.

      Great shouts, cheers.

      – TW

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